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Real life Zelda locations to live out your wildest Tears of the Kingdom adventures

mount-yoshino-cherry-blossom

It’s been a month since the release of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s ambitious sequel came out and we are still utterly obsessed and in awe of the visuals and expansion of the world. When I played Breath of the Wild for the first time, my jaw dropped at every turn and I was impressed by the sheer size of Hyrule. But that’s nothing compared to the revamped landscape in Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

From new challenges and obstacles in the over-world, to massive and pitch-black depths and caves, and of course the dream-like sky islands, Tears of the Kingdom did not come to play and was ready to prove that the game was more than just a glorified expansion. My only gripe with the game is that it’s given me major wanderlust with no actual destinations to visit… 

Determined, however, to live out my wildest Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom adventures, I have compiled a list of real life Zelda destinations for each of Hyrule’s regions that I’m convinced game developers took inspiration from. And the best part is that it’s a global road trip from America across to Asia!

Where was the Last of Us filmed? Infectious travel destinations you need to visit

Where was the Last of Us filmed? Infectious travel destinations you need to visit

Charlie Fabre
by Charlie Fabre Mar 24, 2023

Hyrule Fields: the Great Plains

Let’s start with the epicentre of all the action and the most high stakes area of the game: Hyrule Fields. It’s not crawling with Guardians anymore so that means we can actually enjoy the expansive fields of grass and the small woods dotted around (though other dangers lurk in this new world…) It’s a simple and pretty area when you’re not terrified of dying every two minutes.

Similar to Hyrule Fields are the North American Great Plains: endless seas of flat lands, covered in grass and small copses of trees. This region spans over multiple states and covers an absurd amount of land. The Great Plains are often the setting for those wild wild western movies, and in real life this region was home to Native American tribes and herds of fluffy bison. 

Though any of North America’s National Parks would be a good fit for Hyrule Fields – they all have that rugged and natural beauty and the large open skies looming ahead. Standing in the middle of the plains is sure to give you that intense sense of wanderlust and adventure.

Hebra Mountains: Mount Everest

Moving onto chillier things, the Hebra Mountains area of Zelda is a sparkling winter wonderland that is surprisingly hard to navigate. Obviously inspired by a treacherous mountain chain, we’ve chosen Everest and the accompanying Himalayans.

Within the game’s lore, Mount Hebra, the highest peak of the mountainous zone, is hard to climb and very few have. Everest is the same with only 6,000 people having successfully scaled Everest to the top. It’s easy to get lost in this part of the map, all the mountains look the same, but once you get the layout for the land it really is a beautiful area full of wonder. And though not everyone can climb Everest, making it to Base Camp (or really anywhere in the Himalayas) is a rewarding experience on its own, and a stunning one as well.

Gerudo Highlands: the Rainbow Mountains

This tundra region of Tears of the Kingdom can only be compared to one of the most beautiful natural sites in the world: Peru’s Rainbow Mountains. These mountains have the unique quality of being stripped in different shades of red and blue due to the mineral deposits there.

While the Gerudo Highlands aren’t quite as colourful, the general landscape of them and the ethereal feel, makes the Rainbow Mountains the perfect real life Zelda location. You can visit the Rainbow Mountains all year round and snap some jealousy-inducing Instagram pics, but the best time to visit is during the dry season when the skies are bluest and complement the rock’s natural colour perfectly. Hop on Contiki’s Peru Panorama trip for a glance of your own!

Rainbow Mountain in Peru

Image source:Contiki

Gerudo Desert: the Sahara Desert

From one extreme to another, we’re voyaging to the Sahara desert which is the real life Zelda location for the Gerudo Desert (according to us anyway). Both sporting silky and sun-kissed dunes, the Sahara desert is a dream destination for anyone who is a fan of heat and unique experiences.

It’s hard getting around this region, which is why Link regularly employs the help of sand-seals, but in real life, you can enjoy activities such as camel rides, or even dune surfing! We recommend visiting the Sahara as a day trip on our Moroccan Adventure trip, and remember to pack lots of sunscreen and water! 

Eldin Region: Kīlauea Volcano

The Kīlauea Volcano in Hawaii is a huge and menacing volcano still active today. So, naturally, it’s the best choice to represent the Eldin region’s real life Zelda location. Characterised by its own active volcano and rivers of lava, the Eldin region is one of the more treacherous areas to explore in Tears of the Kingdom. Lack of preparation will result in spontaneous Link combustion!

The bubbling lava at the Kīlauea Volcano’s apex is both frightening and mesmerising, especially at night when it’s dark and the magma glows. But as beautiful as it is, we don’t recommend risking your life just to catch a glimpse. Instead, maybe just hang around Hawaii and chill in the sun or explore the islands’ lush greenery and waterfalls. They don’t call it paradise on earth for nothing…

Faron Region: Costa Rica

Stormy and tropical Faron region is one of my favourite places in Zelda. The area is shrouded in mystery and adventure with all the ruins, the massive waterfall basin (reminiscent of Iguazu Falls), and the thick jungle layout under a constant cover of thunderstorms. Faron is also home to some enemy-riddled beaches and many other little secrets.

Costa Rica is an obvious fit for Faron then because it boasts everything the Faron region has and more. Thick and verdant jungles? Check. White sand beaches sans enemy camps? Check. Delicious food? Check. Amazing nightlife and vibey city? Double check. It’s honesty like Costa Rica took a look at Faron’s cool Zonai ruins and thought ‘we’re going to be that but better!’. 

Akkala Region: US East Coast

The Akkala region has just the most perfect Autumn vibes with its rolling hills and generally chilled atmosphere. But the icing on the cake is the vast expanse of forests stuck in a perpetual autumn. From the bright red trees crowning the Akkala Citadel, to the vermillion forests near Tarrey Town, and the browning woodlands all the way to the North. 

There isn’t that much to do in the Akkala region apart from wander around in peace and awe, but I’m a big fan anyway. In terms of real life locations, the closest to Akkala has to be the US East Coast during the autumn. If you’ve never been, you’re in for a treat, as that’s when all the trees burst into bright colours and it truly is so breathtaking to see. It’s the perfect reason to travel off-season and visit the North East Highlights with Contiki.

Autumn in the White Mountains of New Hampshire

Image source:Contiki

Satori Mountain: Mount Yoshino

A special location that holds some real world significance, Mount Satori is a charming and peaceful area in the game consisting of a small mountain of woodlands and a regal cherry blossom tree right at the top. If you visit at the right time, you’ll be able to glimpse the Lord of the Mountain, a mythical creature and tribute to the late Satoru Iwata, one of Zelda’s developers.

If you’re looking for total tranquillity and a moment of peace in the world, then a visit to Mount Yoshino is well worth your while, especially in the springtime. As you may well know, spring is when the cherry blossoms come alive in Japan, and boy does Mount Yoshino rise to the occasion. Located in the Nara Prefecture, the valley between mountains boasts a delicate sea of baby pink. If you visit any of these real life Zelda destinations, we highly recommend making it this one.

Zora Domain: Lake Como and the Dolomites

Zora’s Domain, where the unique merpeople of Hyrule live, is a stunning area. The kingdom itself looks like a giant sapphire set in the middle of deep gorges, and the land around it has these protrusions of flint and onyx looking stones. Zora’s Domain has a real magical feel to it and the perfect lake to mountain ratio.

Lake Como in northern Italy has a similar magical vibe with the dreamy and fairytale-like houses set in the side of the mountains and the regal hotels dotted around. A lot of the architecture here includes columns, statues, and spiral-trimmed hedges. It’s a place fit for royalty honestly, and the Zora’s royal family would fit in perfectly. Lake Como is a bucket list destination for many and why wouldn’t it be? The enormous glossy lake bridging both shores is attraction enough.

Lake Como and the Dolomite Mountains in Italy

Image source:Luca J / unsplash

The Depths: The Great Blue Hole

Now we come to the Depths, the first of Tears of the Kingdom’s new zones, and arguably its most ambitious one. The Depths span the entirety of the main map so the area is absolutely massive and exploring them is a whole endeavour. Depending on which Hyrule region you’re currently under as you explore the Depths, the landscape changes a little, but ultimately it’s a big massive cave with no light.

There are a few very cool cave systems dotted around the world that would be an appropriate choice for the Depth’s real life location, however the one that inspires both the most awe and dread is Belize’s Great Blue Hole. As the name suggests, the Great Blue Hole is quite literally a hole in the ocean and the perimeter of it is clearly defined by the drastic change in colour. The ocean is a big enough mystery as it is, but having this hole in the middle of it only adds to the amount of questions we have.

Regardless, it’s probably one of the coolest spots to visit and definitely one of the most unique travel destinations. Contiki’s Caribbean Encounter will stop off at Belize if you’re tempted…

Sky Islands: the Forbidden City

And finally we arrive to Hyrule’s Sky Islands, the brand new location of Tears of the Kingdom and the one that really sold the game and got all the excitement going. That footage of Link leaping off the edge of one of these islands and diving down onto the mainland accompanied by the franchise’s iconic music was chill-inducing. But the Sky Islands themselves have rapidly become iconic with their obvious Asian influence from the architecture to the foliage.

The most prominent feature of these Sky Islands is the gorgeous golden trees that dot the grounds and make it feel like a land of perpetual sunset. They resemble gingko, a tree species native to China, and vast collections of the came can be found near Beijing’s Forbidden City, and the gingko burst into a bright yellow around autumn time. The Forbidden City itself is a stunning palace and the Great Sky Island’s Temple of Time resembles it.

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